Predators take Game 2 in double overtime thanks to Pekka Rinne’s stellar saves

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What started out as a defensive battle for the first 58 minutes of the game turned into a double overtime thriller in Vancouver as the Predators beat the Canucks 2-1 to tie the best of seven second round series at 1-1 thanks to Matt Halischuk’s snipe with 5:09 remaining in double overtime

We knew from the get-go that these two teams would be playing some defensively tough games and that it would be more of a battle of strategy than anything else. Turns out all we needed to have the game take a turn for the exciting was to head to multiple overtimes.

Nashville had a golden opportunity to break the game open and grab the lead in the second period when they headed to the power play. Only problem there is that the Predators power play has gone quiet and the Canucks know how to counter shorthanded. Alex Burrows helped make the Preds pay for their ineffectiveness to help the Canucks jump out to a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal.

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From that point on, the Canucks took the foot off the gas pedal and tried to defend their way to victory. That strategy wouldn’t end up in their best interests.

Both Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne were stellar all game long with Luongo making 44 saves and Rinne making highlight reel stops all game long on the way to making 32 stops.  During regulation, it was Luongo who dazzled with his stops to keep the Predators off the board early on.

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Ultimately it would be a weak goal under Luongo’s leg pad from Ryan Suter that would tie the game 1-1 with 1:07 to play in the third period. The Canucks would threaten once more late in the third with efforts to scare Rinne but could not break through.

The game headed off to overtime where the teams mutual hesitancy to press the offensive part of the game evaporated and the teams traded chances back and forth. There it was Rinne who stole the show pulling stunning save after stunning save to keep the Canucks turned away through both overtime and double overtime.

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In double overtime, the game would turn thanks to a quick break in from the blue line that saw Nick Spaling hit Matt Halischuk with a pass and Halischuk would wire his shot over Luongo’s glove hand and into the net to end it.

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For Nashville, the win is obviously huge as the tie the series up and get their offense on the board, finally. The work their defense did in keeping the Canucks quiet paired with Rinne’s unbelievable work. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the offensive side of things, but tonight they shined on defense and aside from a horrible power play mistake, they were flawless.

Vancouver, meanwhile, has to get that killer instinct back. Getting up 1-0 and then sitting back on the lead, even against a poor offensive team like Nashville, is a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen it happen to Vancouver before and we’ve seen it everywhere else throughout the playoffs. Safe might not be death, but it’s inviting the grim reaper into the rink to take a look around. If Vancouver can’t get their offense going, and that means their big guns of the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, every game is going to be close like this one. Playing with fire like that is no good for a team with designs on the Stanley Cup.

After the game, Matt Halischuk talks about his game-winning goal.

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Here are the highlights from the double overtime epic between these two.

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Wild GM is hopeful prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov will join Minny for 2018-19 season

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With rumors on social media suggesting prized Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov has agreed to terms on a long-term deal in the KHL, Minnesota’s general manager Chuck Fletcher has decided to clear the air.

The Wild selected Kaprizov, a five-foot-nine-inch tall forward, in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

He had 42 points in 49 regular season games in the KHL this year — promising, if not impressive numbers for the now 20-year-old Kaprizov. He also lit up the 2017 world juniors, with nine goals and 12 points in seven games.

He was recently traded to CSKA Moscow. Despite reports of this long-term deal to stay in Russia, Fletcher, speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, seemed confident the Wild will be able to bring Kaprizov into their lineup for the 2018-19 season.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“We’ve been in contact with his agent over the last couple weeks and we haven’t been made aware of anything like you’re communicating to me,” Fletcher said. “We’re operating under the assumption he’s got a year left. He’s going to play for CSKA, and then he’s interested in coming over and playing for the Wild for the 18-19 season. He’s a heckuva player. I think he’ll be ready to step in and be a good hockey player for us a year from now. That’s our expectation and our hope. We haven’t been notified of anything to the contrary.

“There was a rumor a few weeks ago of something to this effect, too, and his agent shot it down and said it wasn’t true. It’s just been communicated to us that he’s going to play for CSKA another year, and our hope he’s going to suit up for the Wild in 18-19.”

There has also been a recent report that it’s expected former Sabres general manager Tim Murray will join the Wild.

Fletcher also shot down that report for right now, saying it wasn’t “accurate,” although his full comments didn’t completely shut the door on the possibility of such a scenario happening further along down the road.

“We’ll see what the future brings, but right now, that’s not true at all. There’d be a lot of hoops and hurdles there, and it’s not even a good thing to speculate on because there’s nothing true to that at all right now. That’s not true at all.”

Related: Wild owner confirms Fletcher safe as GM

AP sources: Capitals to host Maple Leafs in outdoor game at Naval Academy

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Two people with knowledge of the situation say the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs will play an outdoor game at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next season.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the NHL had not announced the event. The game is scheduled to be played March 3 at the 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium that hosts Navy football games.

It will be the first NHL outdoor game at a U.S. service academy, though quite possibly not the last. The league has explored doing games at the Army’s home at West Point and at the Air Force Academy.

It’s the third outdoor game for the Capitals and Maple Leafs and the first in the Washington area since the 2015 Winter Classic downtown at Nationals Park.

Capitals-Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy will be one of at least three outdoor games next season. The Ottawa Senators will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Heritage Classic on Dec. 19, and the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres will play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Citi Field in New York.

NHL Network revealed on air that the league would announce a game at Navy on Monday.

Trio of Red Wings prospects ‘making a statement’ in AHL Calder Cup playoffs

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The Detroit Red Wings saw their playoff streak come to an end earlier this spring, but their farm team in Grand Rapids continues its postseason run, qualifying for the Calder Cup final.

The Griffins clinched a spot in the championship series with a 4-2 win against the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday.

It has been during this playoff run that a trio of prospect forwards seem to have left quite an impression on Detroit’s coaching staff, led by Jeff Blashill.

Tomas Nosek, Tyler Bertuzzi and 2015 first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov have all been productive for the Griffins throughout this AHL postseason. This could help put them into the conversation for NHL roster spots in the fall, and present something of a youth movement in Detroit after years and years of chasing the playoffs.

Nosek is the oldest of the three at 24 years of age. Bertuzzi is 22 years old, and Svechnikov is only 20.

“I don’t know what all the pieces will be for us next season, but certainly Nosek made us confident he can be an effective NHL player,” said Blashill, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Bertuzzi and Svechnikov, they are making a statement as well. They are becoming elite players in the AHL playoffs, and those are statements you want to make. We’ll look at them in camp and make our decisions based on who is going to make us better.”

The team’s general manager, Ken Holland, has in the past expressed his hesitation about a full-on rebuild, but after missing the playoffs, the Red Wings have an important few weeks ahead of them and the future of their franchise. They currently have the ninth overall pick in the NHL Draft following April’s lottery, and, after a busy trade deadline, four third-round picks, according to CapFriendly.

With six picks in the first three rounds, and 11 picks in total, Detroit should be able to help further stockpile their organization with a number of promising young prospects. It’s been suggested that the areas of concern for the Red Wings heading into the draft are up the middle and on the blue line.

Up front, all three aforementioned forwards — Nosek, Bertuzzi and Svechnikov — spent some time with the Red Wings this past regular season. Nosek and Bertuzzi each improved their overall point totals this season compared to 2015-16, and have been able to maintain a point-per-game pace in the playoffs. In Nosek’s case, he’s just over a point per game. Svechnikov had 20 goals and 51 points in 74 regular season games — his first full AHL campaign.

“Certainly part of us getting better next year is the young people on the (Red Wings) taking a step,” Holland told MLive.com. “And, hopefully, there is a player or two or three here that can push their way onto the team.”

Coyotes’ Rieder undergoes ankle surgery, expected to be out 8-12 weeks

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Tobias Rieder underwent ankle surgery after suffering an injury at the recently concluded World Hockey Championship, the Arizona Coyotes announced on Saturday.

Per the Coyotes, the operation was successful and he is expected to make a full recovery. However, the 24-year-old right winger is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks, as he goes through rehab.

With that timeline, he should be ready for training camp in September.

For the second straight year, Rieder was injured while playing for Germany in the IIHF tournament. Initially, it was reported that the Coyotes didn’t believe this latest injury was serious.

This past season, Rieder scored a single-season career best 16 goals in 80 games. He’s about to enter the final year of his two-year contract, which has an annual cap hit of $2.225 million.